Surrounded by the entire Wasatch Range, Kessler Peak can be seen from just about anywhere your at in the Wasatch. This peak has something for everyone. Cliffs, large avalanche paths, open faces, couloirs, expansive aprons and some excellent tree skiing are just some of the many choices found here. The views from the summit are in the outstanding catagory. With steep runs on every side of the compass....this is not the place for a beginner to attempt to ski. Avalanches are VERY COMMON on this mountain so please stay off its massive slopes when there is any indication of avalanche danger. This peak is known for sending down avalanches that cross the Big Cottonwood River bed and burry the main highway. Every year large trees are taken out by the massive amounts of snow tumbeling down the hill.
Getting Up There
The only real practicle approach for Kessler Peak is from Big Cottonwood Canyon. Head up Mill D South (aka Cartiff Fork) and skin into the trees on your right. Another and more simple route up is skinning straight up the Argenta Slide Path just off the side of the Big Cottonwood Canyon Highway.
The Mill D South Trailhead
Troy skinning up Mill D South
1 Argenta Seen from the highway, this large avalanche path sees lots of down hill traffic. Sometimes the main path can resemble a ski resort but if you get off the beaten path you can still find some powder in the trees. Gaining the ridge you will be rewarded by outstanding veiws of Mineral Fork and Big Cottonwood Canyon. The run is a series of steep downhills followed my periodic relatively flat terrain. Usually there is a dawn patrol crowd so building a skin track is never an issue. To get started on this run you have to cross the Big Cottonwood Canyon river. The easiest place to do so is where a pipe diverts some of the water flow. Please use caution in the spring, the river can be quite high. Also during the spring be aware that the river level WILL rise in the afternoon so plan accordingly. Another thing to be aware of is that there are cliff bands on the upper bench that are hard to see from the main ridge. We learned this the hard way when searching for fresh lines. We could not see the cliff coming but once we were on top of it there was no escape but right back up the way we came. Had there been an avalanche on the way back up, we would have been carried off a 50+ foot cliff, followed by a ride through thick pine trees.
Troy skinning up Argenta
Troy skiing Argenta
Troy minutes away from getting cliffed out on Argenta. Be sure to scout out your line carefully.
2. God's Lawnmower This massive north face is totally a destination shot and on the to do list of many backcountry skiers. The large face is epic and the trees that follow are not too bad either. The best way to skin this peak is up the lookers left trees. The top of this path is VERY steep and depending on the time of year there can be moats that would really ruin your day if you got caught in one. Due to several avalanche cycles throughout each year there is debries when there is 50 inches of snow on the ground to over 100 inches of snow on the ground. When it comes to skiing this avalanche path....be ready for anything!
The Catchers Mitt
3. Kesslers Catchers Mitt/ East Couloir The Catchers Mitt (east face) is more lonely skier wise when compared to the other runs that surround it. This large face resebles a baseball catchers mitt hints the name. Ususally the skin track up this run stays to the lookers left. Considering it is east facing it is best to get this one done earlier in the day.
Kessler Peak and the East Couloir
The Other Face
4. The Other Face There is no easy way of getting to this run. Head up Mill D South (Cartiff Fork) till the face appears. Take the path of least resitance till you reach the top and enjoy.
Troy skinning up Mill D South with Kessler Peak's "Other Face" in the background
The Other Face
The East Couloir is best described as short and steep. However some turns made here will make your season. This run faces east so be sure to tackle it early in the day. Typically the storms that slam the Wasatch range come from the Northwest which means that it will usually be filled in nicely...however there can be some major cornices at the top...sometimes blocking the entrance. Usually it is best to scope out this line before charging it. By skinning up the Kesslers Catchers Mitt you will have plenty of time to eye and oogle this couloir.
Kessler Peak and the East Couloir
The East Couloir hidden in the shadows
Avalanche knowlage, Beacon, Probe, Partner, Shovel and Common Sence. Stay off Kessler Peak when their is avalanche danger present. Skis are highly recommended.
Troy doing some snow science/avalanche homework before skinning and then skiing the upper most headwall.
"You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know."